The beauty of the snow-capped peaks along the continental divide in the Rocky Mountains is awe-inspiring. The snowdrifts formed by the wind throughout the winter create beautiful formations and smooth fields of deep snow whose untouched serenity inspires and refreshes the heart. Despite the beauty, each year the temperature eventually rises and the snow begins to melt. The snow that was once such a uniform display of beauty at the mountain’s crest melts and runs off one side of the slope or the other. The combination of the forces of gravity and the contours of the land divide the resulting water that was initially very close together. On one side, the water accumulates in various tributaries and rivers eventually traveling to the Gulf of Mexico, while on the other the water funnels into the Pacific Ocean.
Francis Schaeffer used a similar picture of a watershed in the Alps to illustrate the importance of foundational issues. Foundational issues are those that define the “watersheds” for our lives and our cultures. It is often the case that differences in opinion about foundations seem mundane and trivial to most observers. However, the decision to be on one side or the other of foundational issues is anything but insignificant. This is true because such issues logically force you to move in one direction or the other. Moreover, it is not until the forces of time and logic drive us to see where our positions ultimately lead us that we understand the impact of those decisions.
The situations we face in today’s culture are sometimes very alarming. Many of us are alarmed as we see our culture becoming more and more accepting of policies that deny the sanctity of life, that limit the free exercise of religion, that erode our right to privacy, and that continue to infringe on the right to private property. However, becoming active in many of these “causes” can feel like trying to stem the flow of the Mississippi and divert it to the Pacific Ocean. We may be able to transport some of the water there bucket by bucket, but the general flow of the river to the Gulf of Mexico is relentless as it presses on in spite our efforts.
Until we see the watershed issues clearly, we will never really be able to stem the tide. The issues involved are much deeper and more significant than we usually acknowledge. Perhaps there is no area of greater confusion in our culture today than political economy. My purpose is to teach the foundational truths of economics in an easy to understand fashion so that anyone can see the real solutions to today’s economic problems.